Roan S. Faulkner, a Pentecostal bishop who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a parishioner after she had come to him for advice on a family matter, was given a suspended 18-month prison sentence Wednesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
During the investigation into his conduct with the 43-year-old parishioner, three other women associated with Faulkner's New Life Pentecostal Ministries in Catonsville told authorities that the bishop had made physical advances toward them, although none of those acts rose to the level of the attack on the parishioner, whom he forced to perform a sexual act and tried to rape, according to prosecutors.
In victim-impact statements, the parishioner and another woman gave the court graphic and tearful accounts of their ordeals. The second woman, who is 28 and joined Faulkner's church when she was 11, said the bishop's attentions a few years ago went from hugs that were "a little too long" to his trying "to kiss me on my mouth" while "saying things like 'You're my favorite daughter.'"
"I felt used, I felt manipulated," the woman said. After she complained to other church officials, she went on, "I was shunned."
When Faulkner's turn came to speak to the court, he said he had "suffered greatly" in the wake of the women's allegations. Faulkner, 63, who was born in Jamaica and consecrated as a bishop in 1996, said he had spent 44 years helping "people in need" and asked for the judge's mercy.
"I'm very sorry for all the things that happened," Faulkner said, without looking at his victims in the courtroom. His wife, who is known as Queen Esther and is also a pastor, sat stoically behind him.
The judge, Thomas J. Bollinger Sr., said he did not want to see a repetition of the minister's behavior. "If this isn't a wake-up call for the defendant, something's wrong," Bollinger said. But while he understood the prosecution's wish to see Faulkner incarcerated, the judge suggested that the defendant had already been punished, at least in part.
"His reputation in the community has been affected," the judge said. In addition, Bollinger went on, Faulkner had to pay to be released from jail in lieu of $300,000 bail after his arrest a year ago and also pay two attorneys to defend him, David B. Irwin and A. Dwight Pettit.
At least a dozen of Faulkner's supporters were in the courtroom. After the hearing, several shook the defendant's hand and hugged him.
Faulkner had faced a 10-year prison term on the second-degree assault charge to which he pleaded in May as part of an agreement with prosecutors. As part of his sentence, Faulkner must serve five years' probation and pay the costs of his prosecution.
Had Faulkner been tried, prosecutors Stephanie Picard Porter and Charles R. Gayle said, they were prepared to prove that, in a private meeting with the woman, the bishop fondled her, forced her to the floor, tore her clothing and tried to rape her. After the woman began crying, Faulkner forced her to perform a sexual act on him and she complied because she "feared for her safety," Porter told the judge.
The Baltimore Sun does not identify victims of sex crimes.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun